"Can these bones become alive?"
43rd day of the Omer
This week Jews around the world begin the book of Numbers, in Hebrew, Bamidbar, literally, "in the wilderness." The opening chapters of the book describe in detail how the tribes of Israel are to array themselves in the desert. Three tribal encampments on each of the four directions, east, south, west and north, create an outer perimeter around the Tabernacle, which, situated in the center of the encampment, is flanked by an inner perimeter formed by the encampment of the tribe of Levi, according to their family divisions.
This tribal deployment is but the latest stage in the development of the people of Israel from a formless band of freed bondsmen to a great and independent nation. The first transformation occurred at Mount Sinai where the children of Israel received Torah, and as a nation thereby acquired a soul. The second transformation was achieved by the building of the Tabernacle and the inauguration of the Divine service, in effect implanting a living, beating heart, animated by the soul, within the nation. And now, with the deployment of the tribes, each according to its own banner, a body is formed around the heart which is animated by the soul. Each tribe, each individual being assigned his own unique purpose to fulfill, as part of the whole.
The modern rebirth of the nation of Israel upon the land that G-d promised to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, and their descendants, can be seen to be transpiring in reverse fashion. With Israel's declaration of independence in 1948, an army, consisting of refugees from the four corners of the earth had to be formed in order to defend the people and the land from the seven invading Arab armies. Only nineteen years later, on the 28th day of the month of Iyar, (June 7, 1967), whose Hebrew anniversary we are celebrating today, was ancient Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the place of the Holy Temple, liberated. And thereby Israel reacquired its heart.
Just as in the prophecy of Ezekiel, the bones of the two thousand year exile, which ended in the furnaces of the Holocaust, were laid over with sinew, and upon the sinew new flesh has grown. So too Israel has returned to life back in the land G-d has promised. And now having regained Jerusalem, the heart of the nation that feeds nourishment to the entire body of Israel, Israel is searching for its soul, for that animating and guiding force rooted in G-d's will, which will inspire and direct the reborn nation.
Israel has made dramatic achievements throughout its short (modern) history. Her accomplishments in agriculture, science, medicine, humanitarian aid, literature, the arts, high tech, and the military have earned her great, if sometimes begrudging, universal admiration. What is less visible to the foreign eye is the intensive spiritual revolution that is occurring today in Israel and in the heart of Israel - Jerusalem. As in all true revolutions, the Torah revolution taking place today in Israel is intended to through off the yoke of foreign rule. Two thousand years of being oppressed strangers, of laboring in fields that were not theirs, has left an indelible mark upon the soul of Israel. But what looks like so much turmoil and dissent from the outside is, in fact, the first signs of Israel returning to its spiritual inheritance here in the land of Israel, as G-d intended it when He first set Israel upon eagle's wings, and brought them our of Egypt.
So it can be said that Israel today, having physically redeployed itself in the land, and having regained the heart of the nation, is marching toward Sinai in search of its soul. The celebration of Jerusalem Day, situated on the calendar six weeks after the Passover exodus, and two weeks after Yom Atzmaut - Israel Independence Day - and one week before the holiday of Shavuot, which marks the receiving of Torah at Sinai, could hardly be more propitious. From this privileged vantage point we can see with confidence what lies ahead: The rebuilt Holy Temple, the living, beating heart, which will house the soul of Israel, the Divine Shechinah - the indwelling of G-d's presence here on earth which will spread through the arteries and reanimate the nation of Israel in true holiness and attachment to G-d.
May the day come soon when Israel will no longer be in the docket of the travesty of what today is cynically called international "justice," which is nothing more than the politically correct and self serving law of Sodom. May the day come soon when these same nations which today sit in judgement of Israel will turn their eyes and their hearts to Jerusalem in anticipation of His word:
"And many peoples shall go, and they shall say, 'Come, let us go up to the L-rd's mount, to the house of the G-d of Yaakov, and let Him teach us of His ways, and we will go in His paths,' for out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." (Isaiah 2:3)
Tune in to this week's TEMPLE TALK as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven talk with Pastor Kenneth Rawson, an outspoken opponent on dividing Jerusalem, who shares his insights on American policies towards Israel, and his adamant opposition to Christian attempts to convert Jews.
The Rabbi and Yitzchak also speak from the heart about Jerusalem Day, Rabbi Richman shares his experience of the recent ascent to the Temple Mount by 43 rabbis to mark the historic day, and together our hosts rejoice in the very fact that G-d has reunited His people with Jerusalem, the soul of our people and the heart of our land. What a privilege to live here! What joy just to walk the streets of Jerusalem!
Special Update: Next week the holiday of Shavuot begins on Tuesday evening. Therefore, Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven will be broadcasting Temple Talk live on Monday afternoon, May 17, at the usual hour, (3:00 PM Israel time).